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In Memory of Ted Wickson

Ted Wickson, March 23, 1944 – January 21, 2024

Edward Arthur Killaly Wickson was born in Ottawa on March 23, 1944, to Amy (Bowker) Wickson and Authur Killaly Wickson.  Arthur was employed with the National Research Council in Ottawa.  Ted’s family moved to accommodate his father’s work.  Arthur found employment in Baie d’Urfe, Quebec, Toronto, Michigan, and finally in California.   Ted lived briefly in Michigan but returned to Hamilton and Toronto in the early 1960s to complete high school and begin his career.  His first wife, Andra Valkers, passed away in March 2007 after they had two children, Matthew and Kaitlyn.  Ted remarried in 2010 and is survived by Susan (Pimienta), his children, and sister Kathryn Carpenter.  Ted passed away peacefully in Toronto on January 21, 2024.

Ted comes from a long line of Torontonians who were well-known butchers at St. Lawrence Market for over a century until the business was sold in the late 1940s.  In early Victorian times, the Wickson family farm was called Forest Hill, which later gave rise to the name of the current community.

His interest in electric traction began in Ottawa as his family resided near McKellar Loop on the Ottawa Electric Railway’s Britannia streetcar line.  Ted enjoyed the last days of active CPR steam locomotives while living in Waterdown near Hamilton in the late 1950s.  After a brief period with the Royal Bank, he parlayed his enthusiasm for flanged wheel transportation into a job in the advertising department of the Toronto Transit Commission in 1966.   Ted retired in 1997 after being their corporate archivist, historian, photographer, and editor of the TTC employee magazine, The Coupler

Ted successfully trained as an archivist in the 1980s.  He professionally contributed his newfound skills to the City of Toronto Archives and the Toronto Port Authority.  In 2002, Ted authored Reflections of Toronto Harbour: 200 Years of Port Activity and Waterfront Development for the Toronto Port Authority.   His book, A Century of Moving Canada: Public Transit 1904-2004, was published by the Canadian Urban Transit Association.   Ted also edited and updated numerous books on electric railways in Ontario for Railfare-DC Books and contributed photographs and text to many other publications.

More recently, he worked with the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada, describing photographs and writing historical sketches of their residential schools.  This work culminated in his 2008 publication Anglican Indian Residential Schools: 1820-1070

Ted enjoyed travel, which became a personal lifestyle, notably all-night weekend drives in the 1960s to cities like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia in search of vanishing streetcars.  He often travelled great distances to visit his family in Southern California.  Then, he would frequently make lengthy detours, such as returning home to Toronto via Vancouver in search of photographic opportunities.  Some of his many solo trips were marked by misadventures, including when the differential of his faithful ’55 Chevy locked up in Yukon, Oklahoma in November 1964.   A wrecking yard and roadside garage came to his rescue, and on he went, California-bound. 

Two decades later, summertime family activities included fun trips to the Muskoka’s and other locations around Ontario with the children.  In recent times, Ted travelled throughout Canada, proudly showing his second wife, Susan, the best Canadian scenery and experiences. 

International trips to Europe and beyond became a feature of Ted’s life in the fall of 1970 with a trip to England and the Continent in search of steam locomotives and streetcars.  Ted was always an expert photographer with a unique knack for capturing the vehicle or person at just the right moment.  His talent led to commissions to photograph trams in Europe, and he made several trips in the 1970s. 

Ted’s fondness for vintage vehicles led him to purchase a 1938 Ford sedan for a family trip to Man and His World in Montreal in 1967.  Ted bought a similar replacement model in New Brunswick, which he drove home unrestored in June 1976.  After that, the Ford was often used in movies with Ted in the driver’s seat.   Reluctantly, he sold the car many years later, hoping it would continue its film career.

Ted was always an expert photographer with a unique knack for capturing the vehicle or person at just the right second.  Ted was a modest man, but his attention to detail and his kind, soft-spoken manner allowed him to form lasting friendships with individual enthusiasts and professionals across the urban transit industry and beyond.  He contributed his diverse talents to hobby interest groups like the Upper Canada Railway Society and the Canadian Transit Heritage Foundation.

Keen to share his experiences, Ted often presented his images and detailed knowledge of electric railways in talks to railway groups in Southern Ontario, including the Toronto Transportation Society and Ottawa’s Bytown Railway Society.  He co-founded JBC Visuals in 1979, which became Canada’s foremost producer of transportation postcards, a business he sustained until 2014.   

Ted was a pathfinder, particularly in preserving and interpreting rail and water transportation in Ontario and beyond.  His contributions will long be remembered. – Bill Linley

Donations in memory of Ted may be made to a charity of your choice.